Time to enjoy our riverside festival - Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson

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The final preparations are underway for the 2014 Bedford River Festival, which is taking place this Saturday and Sunday, July 19 and 20.

The river festival was founded in 1978 to celebrate the opening of a navigable route between Bedford and the coast, and we can be proud of the way that over the years it has grown to become one of the country’s biggest free family events, while still retaining its unique spirit.

That unique river festival spirit is found across the huge festival site. It is represented by the sports club volunteers running sessions for children, the local performers on the music stages, the camaraderie and spectacle provided by the Carnival Parade on Sunday and by the rafts which seem to stay afloat through sheer will power!

This year’s event promises even more fun and free activities than 2012, when more than 300,000 people enjoyed the festivities.

You may recall that the event took place just before the Olympics, and we had to book the portable toilets very early to make sure there were enough! There have been no such issues this time and I’ve got my fingers crossed for good weather!

One of many highlights of the festival is the historical village on and around Castle Mound.

This year, to commemorate 100 years since the outbreak of World War One, it will be taking visitors back to that time, with features and activities helping to tell the story of life on the Home Front and in the trenches.

It is the vast number of volunteers and visitors who make the river festival what it is: a genuine community event. If you are involved at all over the weekend or are planning to come and enjoy the breadth of attractions on offer, I hope you have a fantastic time.”